Zabeth Teelucksingh – Philadelphia (United States)



The view from Philly

Winston Churchill said “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Oddly it is World War II stories that have helped me to redirect the work of the Global Philadelphia Association as well as to adjust my work/life balance since the COVID-19 pandemic. A nomadic childhood included listening to tales of rationing, the blackout, the blitz and the occupation from both my French and British family elders. These stories have been helpful reminders of how, in times of hardship, we need to redirect and to work on keeping positive.

On Friday March 13th we had a “test” work-from-home day at Global Philadelphia Association with the notion that we might be in a shelter-in-place situation very soon. Sure enough, by Monday March 16, we had entered that stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. My team, used to some degree of remote work, redirected well. They have risen to the challenge of the “new normal” and shown great flexibility. Nonetheless the emotional toll of being at home 24/7 and being on lock-down was one that was not easy to adjust to. I for one, missed the team and being with other people a great deal.

Global Philadelphia Association’s work is at least one third communications. COVID-19 was a fast-moving story in our city and region and so there was much for us to share out. First informational updates, followed by member’s information and then later, educational activities to do from home. On a daily basis, of our team watches the Mayoral and Gubernatorial updates to glean and share any pertinent alerts. We have been fortunate to have built a robust portfolio of communications channels and have doubled our information pipeline to meet the volume increase.

On April 18, we were preparing to celebrate International Day of Monuments and Sites with a wonderful ballet of partnerships and mutual promotion, as well as open-houses in many of our city’s 67 National Historic Landmarks (NHL). With our World Heritage Site and all the historic sites closed, the day has had to be postponed but we have chosen to feature on-line promotions and have seen that many of our partners at UK Heritage, ICOMOS and UNESCO have done the same. Check the hashtag #NHLinPHL to learn more about the sites in Philadelphia.

As many of you are aware, young children the world over are at home seeking for new activities and distractions. Our education team shares the “Educating Global Kids with Roots” tools we have for the general public to use at their leisure. The learnphillyheritage.org website is packed with wonderful heritage resources pertaining to our city’s rich history. Thanks to a very cooperative print-partner, we have been able to mail out the World Heritage City coloring books in three languages including a Japanese version.

Among many ongoing projects is the Sustainable Development Goals Mural campaign. Having mounted a mural for SDG #5, Gender Equality, close to the Philadelphia’s Parkway last Fall, we are now working on SDG #4 Quality Education and SDG #13 Climate Action. Both projects will evolve through 2020, the ultimate goal being a mural for each of the 17 SDGs to be displayed in different neighborhoods in the City of Philadelphia.

On a personal note, two trips had been planned pre-COVID-19 for my family during the early Spring. One to Miami to celebrate the 3-day Hindu nuptials of close family friends in South Florida. The other a trip to see my aged mother in Paris where she now resides in a nursing-home and meet up with my Scots educated daughter. Sadly, both were cancelled and with flights interrupted, the family seems presently very far away. The upside, with so many friends and family all over the globe there are many ways to keep in touch. Have you tried zoom happy hour or face-time magic?

We are likely to emerge from all of this into a new landscape. The prolonged lock-down is difficult but when folk complain about being inside, whilst I can relate, I also chose to remember Anne Frank… Hers was a lockdown with no respite and a fatal ending.

Zabeth Teelucksingh
Executive Director
Global Philadelphia Association
April 19, 2020